Thursday, September 1, 2022
“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).
Are these people really saved—or really lost?
Today’s Scripture names the Galatians “my little children.” Not a term of endearment, it gently rebukes these people who should be mature believers but are spiritual infants or Bible babies. Christ should have been formed in them. The Apostle Paul had so fervently labored to give them sound Bible doctrine, just as a mother experiences severe birth pangs to bring forth new life: “Of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,….” What happened instead, due to corrupt spiritual leaders, was works-religion had been formed in them. (Multimillions of genuine Christians have likewise been deceived during the 20 centuries since!) That these Galatians were indeed Christians—despite their stunted development and plenteous confusion—is confirmed when we realize Paul addressed them as “brethren” nine times (1:11; 3:15; 4:12,28,31; 5:11,13; 6:1,18).
“I desire to be present with you now.” If only Paul could be there with these Galatians physically, but he is far away. In those days of limited communication (no cellphones or internet videocalls), all he can do is write on a piece of papyrus (plant material) or vellum or parchment (animal skin) and send that message by courier back to Galatia. Had Paul been with them, he would have “change[d] [his] voice.” That is, his tone of voice would reflect the gravity of their situation and his utter disapproval of their apostasy (falling away from the truth). More bluntly, the Holy Spirit would speak through Paul to bring them to their senses. “Wake up and grow up!” (See “sleeping” saints in Ephesians 5:14-17.)
Observe that weighty expression at the end of today’s Scripture: “For I stand in doubt of you.” It is not to be read as “I doubt you ever trusted Christ!” Rather, the Apostle’s reaction to them is something like, “I have no idea what to do with you!” “Doubt” here is the Greek “aporeo” (literally, “no way out”). Paul is “at a loss mentally,” perplexed or uncertain about how to proceed….